1. DITCH ONE DRIVE
Log more steps and squelch stress by swapping a daily car trip for a stroll. "Every morning I walk my 5-year-old daughter to school," says Heather Spears, a 40-year-old public relations consultant in Laguna Niguel, CA. "It gives us more time together and I squeeze in some exercise before work." If getting your kid to class by foot isn't an option, try walking several blocks to pick up your coffee or lunch. Adding at least one mile to your day helps to strengthen your legs and cardiovascular system.
2. MAKE A SPLASH
To replace high-calorie juices in her diet, Kristin Cruz, a 40-year-old radio and TV host, started flavoring her own H2O. "I fill a large bottle with water, add mint leaves and a few lime and orange slices, and refrigerate it overnight," says the Santa Clarita, CA, mom of two (ages 4 and 7). "By morning, I have a delicious drink that I sip on all day." To make your own flavored beverage, try mixing cucumber, crushed berries or peeled, sliced ginger into a bottle or pitcher of water.
3. SWEAT ON SCHEDULE
The key to a fit body isn't when you exercise but how consistently you do it. For Megan Morris, a stay-at-home mom in Breckenridge, CO, that means working out at the same time. "I hit the gym every morning right after I drop off my son at kindergarten," the 39-year-old says. "It's become a part of my routine, so I never skip it. Without even thinking, I drive in my gym's direction!"
4. TAKE A STAND
"As a preschool teacher, I seldom sit," says Christine Lebovits, 43, a mom of three (ages 10, 12 and 16) in Allendale, NJ. "All the activity helps me stay slim." She's right: A 145-pound woman burns 36 more calories per hour standing than sitting. If you're stuck at a desk all day, get up while you're on the phone, do 10 lunges desk-side after bathroom breaks, and walk for 10 minutes after lunch. "Moving for small periods throughout the day increases your metabolism," says Andrea Orbeck, a fitfusion.com trainer and owner of Topanga FitCamp in Topanga, CA. "It also boosts circulation and helps stretch and strengthen the spinal muscles to prevent back pain."
5. MAXIMIZE THE MINUTES
No time for a full strength-training session? Spread it throughout the day. "I crank out 25 squats while the water heats for my morning shower, 25 as I brush my teeth and another 25 as I make dinner," says Jessica Richardson Cummings, 40, of Kailua, HI, who works in law-enforcement program support. The mom of two girls (ages 6 and 9) ends her day with 30 push-ups before bed. All those activity bursts add up to one effective workout for her legs, butt and upper body. Create a solid regimen by taking tasks on your daily to-do list—say, brewing coffee, prepping breakfast and removing your makeup—and using them as exercise triggers.
6. STOCK UP
"I rarely eat packaged, processed foods, but I love to snack, so I carry a few treats," says Colleen Ketchum, 44, a mom of three boys (ages 7, 13 and 15) and the owner of Pilates in Motion in Warwick, NY. "Every Sunday and Wednesday, I hard-boil eggs, cut up fruits and veggies, and roast seeds. My boys grab from the pre-made options after school, so I need to have a lot on hand!" Her favorite combos: dried cherries with cranberries and apricots, and plain yogurt with fruit, pumpkin seeds and maple syrup.
7. MIND THE MENU
"Every day for lunch, I eat a salad," says Jodi Danback, a 40-year-old teacher and mom of three (ages 3, 9 and 12) from Sumter, SC. The autopilot approach may not sound exciting, but it's smart: "Choosing similar foods every day helps you get into a rhythm of making healthy choices and prevents overeating," says Angela Onsgard, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, AZ. One study found that women who ate the same lunch for a week consumed 100 fewer calories than usual. Onsgard suggests building your own go-to lunch by combining a carb (like farro), a protein, a healthy fat (perhaps nuts) and veggies.